The Post deployed teams of journalists to visit a dozen hotspots across the globe, where they interviewed scientists, government officials, planners, farmers, fishers, and others to portray the impact of living in a hot zone. The series delivered data-rich, accessible coverage that conveyed the urgency of the planet’s rapidly changing climate.
“Today in this country we are single-mindedly focused on a public-health crisis. But another worldwide public-health crisis is upon us,” said Martin Baron, executive editor of The Post. “As with the coronavirus, we are well served if we pay attention to the science. In producing this series, our staff not only paid attention to the science, but also built on it with deeper and more granular analysis. And then, with the full resources of our news organization, we put a human face to the numbers, showing the severe impact that extreme warming is already having on communities around the world.”
The Post was named a finalist in three categories. For Breaking News, The Post was recognized for its coverage of back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. In a newsroom-wide effort, The Post covered the brutal human toll as well as the emotional, medical, political and social impact. In capturing the enormity of the moment, the coverage drove home the ongoing threat of gun violence. At the center of The Post’s coverage were the victims. A 12-page special section presented the nation’s mass shooting epidemic in stark graphics and photos, publishing the names of all 1,196 mass shooting victims since the University of Texas clock tower massacre in 1966. The display of victims’ faces emphasized the growing frequency and death toll of American mass shootings.
The Post was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its groundbreaking reporting on the opioid crisis in America, which revealed that between 2006 and 2012, drug companies and manufacturers flooded the country with 76 billion pills. After a hard-fought court battle, The Post was able to make public a Drug Enforcement Administration database on the distribution of every pill that served as a road map to the epidemic, connecting the towns and cities most harmed by opioids to the companies that manufactured and distributed them. The Post made the database searchable for the public and other journalists. The data was downloaded more than 44,000 times by individuals interested in doing their own research, and 129 local news outlets produced their own stories based on the data.
Sports columnist Sally Jenkins was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the breadth and vigor of her writing, which in 2019 was characteristically fearless and forthright. She wrote with singular clarity, insight and passion on the debasement of language, the secret to the New England Patriots’ success, the fecklessness of the international anti-doping regime, gender pay inequity, U.S. corporate self-censorship in China, college athletic compensation, the women’s national soccer team as an example of female empowerment, the AFC Championship game, misuse of the criminal justice system, and the trivialization of the Holocaust. Jenkins is bold, whether she is taking on a professional sports league, assailing a global superstar or countering a popular narrative. She writes with blistering power.
Including the 2020 awards, The Washington Post has won 69 Pulitzer Prizes since 1936.